London Flagship Food Boroughs – Tackling ObesityFri 18 Jul 2014
Story by The Food Revolution Team
Today, the Mayor of London announced ambitious new pilots to tackle childhood obesity through schools and communities in London, UK.
As part of the new school food plan, two London boroughs have been chosen to take part in a 5-year pilot ‘Lighter London’ which aims to tackle child obesity and related issues.
The two chosen boroughs – Lambeth and Croydon – have each been awarded c£600k to pioneer school-based and community projects to tackle current health issues through better diets and food education. Each borough will implement programmes and initiatives that make changes to the way that food is served in schools, hospitals and on the high street.
The ‘Lighter London’ programme will bring together a coalition of agencies working in partnership across a targeted area to tackle obesity issues in a coordinated way not seen before in the UK.
From this September, work will start within Lambeth and Croydon to implement and expand a range of projects based in schools and designed to engage whole communities. Such projects will aim to increase knowledge of food, where it comes from and the impact it has on the body, develop food skills through cooking lessons and foster a love of good food.
Projects currently being developed include grants for community cooking and healthy eating projects, free school breakfasts, fruit and veg voucher schemes and food business start-up funds. As the pilots roll out, more and more projects designed to improve our food system and the way we think about food will be announced.
Henry Dimbleby, co-author of the School Food Plan, said “The ambition is to show that by making radical changes across all sections of society - albeit in a small area - we can make a big dent in the levels of obesity. We hope to create a proven model that can be rolled out not only across the UK, but across the world. We are going to bring in ideas and experts from around the world to help us trial approaches, making these two boroughs a focus for the global health community and proving that together we can tackle this problem. It will make people healthier, happier and remove a massive burden from the NHS.”
Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said “London has the highest rates of obesity in England which is fuelling a shocking uplift in life-limiting conditions such as Type 2 diabetes whilst presenting huge challenges for our public services. This is a looming health crisis which threatens to lower the life span our children to below that of today's adults. Lighter London is a UK-first. It will bring together schools working at the heart of our communities with a raft of other organisations to tackle poor diet and in both children and adults.”
Read more about the work being done in London to address obesity and diet-related disease and why this is so important in this article by Rosie Boycott: 'Food is a drug, we have to learn to say no.'
The School Food Plan was drafted by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent (from LEON restaurants) with the help of an expert panel having been asked by the UK government to help improve school food, the plan aims to significantly increase the number of children eating good food in schools and to determine the role food, cooking and growing in schools. Find out more about the plan, which includes putting food education back on the National Curriculum here.
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